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Finnish Red Cross sends field hospital to Bangladesh

The Finnish Red Cross is sending a field hospital to Bangladesh to aid the estimated 480,000 Rohingya refugees on the Myanmar border.

Rohingya-pakolaisten tulevaisuudesta ei ole tietoa. Avustusjärjestöt ovat varoittaneet sairauksista, kun pakolaisten itse kyhäämiltä leireiltä puuttuu hygienia ja puhdas vesi.
About 480,000 refugees are living in makeshift camps on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Image: Kirsi Crowley/ Yle

The Finnish Red Cross (FRC) has sent a field hospital to Bangladesh, where 480,000 Rohingya refugees are living in makeshift camps after fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.

The field hospital, which FRC is delivering together with the Norwegian Red Cross, contains tents, technical equipment, an operating room, medical devices and medicines. 

According to FRC the conditions in the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, close to the Myanmar border, are very challenging.

”There is no infrastructure to speak of, the roads are in bad shape and the makeshift camps cannot provide enough shelter, food, water or toilets for that many people,” says team leader Tiina Saarikoski.

The monsoon season has begun in Bangladesh with torrential rain adding to the misery in the camps, where the risk of an epidemic such as cholera runs high.

Mission will 'last for years'

Over 50 percent of the refugees are women and children, according to Saarikoski. ”The hospital will focus on risk pregnancies and complications, which unless treated often prove fatal to expecting mothers.”

The field hospital will arrive in Bangladesh this week, but choosing a location for it poses a challenge in itself. The facility will require a large plot of land and needs to be situated close to the refugee camps.

Doctor Pentti Haatanen, who will take part in the aid mission in Bangladesh, says he expects the operation to be difficult due to the huge number of refugees and the poor conditions in the camps.

The hospital with 60 beds will be full very soon, he says. "Our plan is to look right away at how to expand it."

”Unless the refugees can return to Myanmar, or continue on to India, this mission is going to last for years,” he adds.

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